BROOKS CAMBIUM C17 SADDLE REVIEW

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So just straight off the bat –

I’m no ‘saddle’ guru. The ‘seats’ I grew up on were big bulky BMX seats or plastic pivotals. I wear dress shoes often so I understand how Brooks saddles wear in get softer over time. I get it. I just have never had the opportunity to get my paws on a NICE saddle. Kinda going further with all that stuff too is, I’ve been vegetarian for 6+ years so I kinda like the fact that my bike has zero leather on it.

Anyways. I was at Mission Hills Bike Shop (they have a GREAT selection of Brooks goods) the other day and Brian was telling me that they were getting the new NO LEATHER Brooks in and that they were getting a few tester saddles. Needless to say, my ears perked up and the next day he offered me one of the tester saddles.

I swung by the shop, he threw it on the whip, and I was on my way.

Right off the bat I noticed how flexible the saddle is. Not in a bad way though. Just like, you can literally bend the saddle kind of a lot. I’ve always heard of Brooks taking a long time to break in. I totally grasp why that is too. Its cause most Brooks saddles are leather. Leather softens up the more you use it. The Cambium though, its in an entirely different category though. It feels broken in RIGHT off the bat. I mean, I’m guessing that it will soften up even more over time just like normal saddles, but this thing is good to go right out the box. Felt like it had been worn in and could only image it gets better over time. PLUS. Top top all that off, this saddle is still covered by the Brooks standard 2 year warranty. Anything goes wrong with it for the most part, 2 years from purchase, you can get it replaced.

Literally the only call out I have on this saddle is the length. I’m super biased though cause the saddle I normally ride is an inch shorter than the C17 + I’m a size 29 waist and I have NO butt. I noticed that there is a C17S out there as well and it’s marketed as a ‘womens’ saddle. Its about an inch shorter that the C17. The reason the C17S is shorter is that the female anatomy is different and does not require the same length saddle as a man would.  Well, even though I’m not a woman and the seeing as the womens version isn’t pink glitter with tassles, I think I would prefer the C17S. No shame.

( I was wondering why this saddle isn’t marketed more as a “natural” saddle and a follower responded with a great response as to why below. )

So MY conclusion on the Brooks Cambium :

1. It is very comfortable. Really loved it.

2. The C17S should be marketed just as that though. Whys it gotta be women specific?

Check out the Brooks Cambium : HERE

Thanks Brian and Mission Hills Bicycle Shop for letting me get my hands on one of these! PS, I’m not special. ANYONE can test out this saddle. See, Brooks sent Mission Hills Bicycle Shop some tester saddles and I’m pretty sure Brooks sent them to most Brooks dealers. Ask Mission Hills, or your favorite bike shop if you’re not local, to get on the list to give this saddle a test. You can even sign up off the Brooks website : HERE.

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Photos / words : Charlie Sears

alphamail@theawarewolfs.com | www.charliesears.co

4 thoughts on “BROOKS CAMBIUM C17 SADDLE REVIEW

  1. Using the claim “vegan” with respect to a product is much more difficult than one might think. In the case of rubber products, the chemicals calcium stearate and stearic acid are very frequently used somewhere along the manufacturing process. These are very commonly sourced from animal fat, though they can also be sourced from vegetable fat. Making sure that your manufacturing chain is using only vegetable sourced stearates throughout is not a trivial proposition.

    • Dang, you bring up incredibly and super valid points Mark! Thanks for sharing all that info! Hopefully that clears up any questions anyone else may have out there.

  2. I don’t own a Cambium, but I do have some pertinent knowledge. ( I do ride a B17 and my wife rides a B67. I’m not at all prejudiced against Brooks.) First, let me comment on the B17S and other “ladies” brooks saddles. I have always read that the shorter nose of the ladies saddles is intended to accommodate skirts, not anatomy. Perhaps that’s a misapprehension.
    I welcome the update of the Cambium’s design. The stainless steel rails and die cast aluminum frame parts are long overdue and very welcome. It is of course possible that long term use will show up problems with these parts, but the idea of using late 20th instead of early 20th century materials and techniques is a welcome one. The pertinent knowledge I have, that others may not, regards the rubber used in the Cambium’s cover. I have worked as an analytical chemist and test engineer in a rubber formulation department. Brooks claims, probably with complete honesty, that the Cambium’s rubber is “natural rubber”. Unlike many marketing uses of the word “natural”, this one has a specific technical meaning. It means that the rubber polymer is isolated from the sap of the hevea brasiliensis tree. Chemically, this polymer is known as poly-cis-isoprene. The natural rubber used in Cambium saddles is vulcanized, a chemical reaction involving various (perhaps synthetic) chemicals and heat. Vulcanization is necessary. Without it, the rubber will not form a durable product.
    Now I can get to the one possible negative aspect. Natural rubber, even when vulcanized, is notoriously poor in its resistance to common environmental conditions. The two worst offenders are ultraviolet light and ozone. It is simply impossible to avoid these , especially in products that will be used outdoors. There is always some ozone about, as a result of the action of ultraviolet sunlight on atmospheric oxygen. I have run both ozone and ultraviolet exposure chambers for testing rubber and plastic formulations. I have also seen many instances of natural rubber parts, in use or storage under field conditions that failed, identically to the chamber exposed samples, after months or years of exposure to “natural” conditions. I can attest, from direct observation, that both natural and synthetic poly-cis-isoprene parts do very poorly when exposed to either of these common agents. There are synthetic additives that can be added to natural rubber to improve its ozone and UV resistance. I do not know whether Brooks has included those, but I suspect so, because otherwise, the working (and even the storage) life of the Cambium would be unacceptably short. Even with the additives, I expect the rubber in the Cambium will last only a few years in active use. I hope I am wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
    There are synthetic rubber polymers that are much more resistant to UV and ozone than natural rubber is. The use of these is why parts such as automobile and bicycle tires can last many years. However, using synthetic rubber loses the marketing advantage of being able to used the prized word “natural”.
    I’d really like the Cambium to do well, but I am worried for it.

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